Last updated: August 07, 2022.

Those who beset us round with dismal stories, do but themselves confound.

John Bunyan

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.


In all very numerous assemblies, of whatever characters composed, passion never fails to wrest the scepter from reason. Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.

James Madison

Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.

Immanuel Kant

You shall love your crooked neighbour / With your crooked heart.

WH Auden

Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.

Simone Weil

Work never seems to me a reality, but a way of getting rid of reality.

Oscar Wilde

Work is more fun than play.

Noel Coward

What all the wise men promised has not happened, and what all the damned fools said would happen has come to pass.

Lord Melbourne

I learned at fifty I had joined the army of unwanted men. [...] I hate that fellow whose face I see, lost and lonely in my dawn mirror! When I see a fine lady, God! I know outrage. Such spring cartwheel thoughts are not for dead pharaohs.

Ray Bradbury, Farewell Summer

To coin one's brain into silver, at the nod of a master, is to my way of thinking, the hardest task in the world.

E.A. Poe

Metaphorically, modern cities are medieval princes who steal all the food their starving serfs produce and, having eaten themselves to a grotesque corpulence, suffer an apoplectic stroke and live out the remainder of their days in impaired mental and physical condition.

Chilton Williamson, Jr.

Oh, the world was full in those days; it seemed so much more alive than these quiet times when a new thing could take many lifetimes to finish its long birth labors and the world stay the same for generations. In those days a thousand things began and ended in a single lifetime, great forces clashed and were swallowed up in other forces riding over them. It was like some monstrous race between destruction and perfection; as soon as some piece of the world was conquered, after vast effort by millions, as when they built Road, the conquest would turn on the conquerors, as Road killed thousands in their cars; and in the same way, the mechanical dreams the angels made with great labor and inconceivable ingenuity, dreams broadcast on the air like milkweed seeds, all day long, passing invisibly through the air, through walls, through stone walls, through the very bodies of the angels themselves as they sat to await them, and appearing then before every angel simultaneously to warn or to instruct, one dream dreamed by all so that all could act in concert, until it was discovered that the dreams passing through their bodies were poisonous to them somehow, don't ask me how, and millions were sickening and dying young and unable to bear children, but unable to stop the dreaming even when the dreams themselves warned them that the dreams were poisoning them, unable or afraid to wake and find themselves alone...

John Crowley, Engine Summer

The Turks have a drink called Coffee (for they use no wine), so named of a berry as black as soot, and as bitter, (like that black drink which was in use among the Lacedaemonians, and perhaps the same), which they sip still off, and sup as warm as they can suffer; they spend much time in those Coffee-houses, which are somewhat like our Ale-houses or Taverns, and there they sit chatting and drinking to drive away the time, and to be merry together, because they find by experience that kind of drink so used helpeth digestion, and procureth alacrity. Some of them take Opium to this purpose.

Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621)

One ravine out of the many radiating from a summit will lead to the one valley you seek; take another stream and you are condemned at last to traverse mountains to repair the error. In a fog or at night, if one has not such a path, there is nothing to help one but the lay of the snow or the trend of the vegetation under the last gale. In climbing, the summit is nearly always hidden, and nothing but a track will save you from false journeys. In descent it alone will save you a precipice or an unfordable stream. It knows upon which side an obstacle can be passed, where there is the best going; sand or rock--dry soil. It will find what nothing but long experiment can find for an individual traveller, the precise point in a saddle or neck where approach is easiest from either side, and everywhere the Road, especially the very early Road, is wiser than it seems to be. It reminds one of those old farmers who do not read, and whom we think at first unreasoning in their curious and devious ways, but whom, if we watch closely, we shall find doing all their work just in that way which infinite time has taught the country-side. Thus I know an old man in Sussex who never speaks but to say that everything needs rest. Land, he says, certainly; and also he believes iron and wood...

Hillaire Belloc, The Old Road

To study something of great age until one grows familar with it and almost to live in its time, is not merely to satisfy a curiosity or to establish aimless truths: it is rather to fulfil a function whose appetite has always rendered History a necessity. By the recovery of the Past, stuff and being are added to us; our lives which, lived in the present only, are a film or surface, take on body--are lifted into one dimension more. The soul is fed. Reverence and knowledge and security and the love of good land--all these are increased or given by the pursuit of this kind of learning. Visions or intuitions are confirmed. It is excellent to see perpetual agony and failure perpetually breeding the only enduring things; it is excellent to see the crimes we know ground under the slow wheels whose ponderous advance we can hardly note during the flash of one human life. One may say that historical learning grants men glimpses of life completed and whole; and such a vision should be the chief solace of whatever is mortal and cut off imperfectly from fulfilment.

Hillaire Belloc, The Old Road

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